Maverick Rowan was named after Tom Cruise’s ace fighter pilot character in “Top Gun.” He’s matured into quite a sharpshooter, himself, and many top college basketball coaches, including Louisville’s Rick Pitino, have their recruiting sights locked on him.
“I liked the movie, liked the name,” said Maverick’s father, Ron. “My wife and I picked that one, and it seems to be a pretty good fit.”
Maverick shot down the competition during his junior season, and Pitino hopes he does the same for the Cardinals someday.
Fresh off leading Fort Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons High School (32-1) to a state title Saturday, Rowan, a high-scoring 6-foot-7 guard, will take his first official recruiting visit to Louisville this weekend, reciprocating the many trips Pitino has made to see him. Rowan will be on hand for the Cards’ game against No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.
“I’ve been a big fan of (Pitino) for a long, long time,” Ron Rowan said. “I think he does a great job and is one of the great coaches of all time. I have a lot of respect for how his team’s playing. So there is a strong interest on Maverick’s part to see what Louisville is all about.”
Ron Rowan played for St. John’s against Pitino-coached Providence in the mid-1980s and considers Pitino’s rebuilding job with the Friars, culminating in a trip to the 1987 Final Four, “one of the greatest coaching turnarounds in the history of the game that everyone forgets about it.”
“What he did with those guys, because I was there to witness it, is still a remarkable achievement to me,” said Ron Rowan, an assistant at Cardinal Gibbons. “Through the years, he’s always had great teams, his teams are in great shape. His teams have been down and always come back and win games. I like the style he plays, and everything he’s done in his career is very interesting to me and my son.”
Maverick Rowan’s career has now caught Pitino’s eye. Rowan’s family moved from the Pittsburgh area, where he averaged 26.3 points in helping Lincoln Park Charter to a small-classification state title as a sophomore, to South Florida last summer.
He withdrew his commitment to Pitt soon after, and within a week, U of L offered a scholarship and began a strong pursuit.
Most recently, Pitino attended Cardinals Gibbons’ state semifinal victory on Friday night, when Rowan had 34 points and nine rebounds. He also saw Rowan score 31 in a game in January and 32 back in December.
The U of L coach said as recently as Tuesday that he’s placing an emphasis on recruiting high-level shooters, and Rowan seems to fit the bill. Official stats were unavailable, but Ron Rowan said his son shot about 40 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent on free throws this year.
He thinks his son has the talent of a top-10 national prospect.
“He can score in a lot of different ways,” the elder Rowan said. “Put a smaller guy on him, he can post up. A bigger guy (on him), he can drive to the hoop. He’s got the midrange game, can shoot the 3, can get on the break. He makes his foul shots.”
Although U of L has clearly made Rowan a priority, that’s not to say other schools haven’t, too.
Ron Rowan said his son is being recruited consistently by 10-12 programs. They’ve visited North Carolina State and Florida this season, and UCLA, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa State, UNLV and Gonzaga are heavily involved, too. Pitt remains under consideration as well.
Maverick Rowan has no more official visits planned at this time – the Louisville trip fits nicely into the one-week window after Rowan’s high school season ended and before college tournaments begin – and Ron Rowan said his next ones probably won’t be until the fall.
Ron Rowan said his son has no favorite school at this point, and he said it would be impossible to say which team is recruiting Maverick the hardest because so many are involved. They’ve had no discussions about when he’ll make a college commitment.
That said, it’s a good sign for Louisville that Rowan has chosen it to get his first official visit.
“When you get down to taking official visits, you only get five,” his dad said. “So (to take one somewhere) I’d think you’d have to have a very sincere interest in going to that place.”